The art of keeping
dry in rising waters.

Prepared for any weather with the Unimog U 5023.

Much work has gone into Germany’s flood defences in recent years, but so-called “100-year floods” are now occurring more frequently than ever before. Ongoing changes in our climate are demonstrably causing more extreme weather events, making it necessary to provide maximum levels of protection in flood-prone areas. The town of Monheim lies directly on the River Rhine in the district of Mettman, between Cologne and Düsseldorf. The threat of high water is ever-present here. The local fire service has therefore invested in the future by purchasing a Unimog U 5023 plus special-purpose body from Schlingmann. It’s proved to be a wise move already, as events earlier this year demonstrate.

For medical emergencies or tackling fires, the new Unimog can provide valuable services on a call-out, as we wouldn’t be able to reach the property otherwise.


Torsten Schlender, Head of the Monheim Fire and Rescue Service

When the land floods behind the dyke.

In January, the fields were under water again and the link road was flooded. Nothing unusual in Monheim for the time of year. The meadowland thrives on the flooding, but for the locals it just means more road closures and blocked access. “It’s normal here,” says Rainer Fester of Monheim town council. “There was no damage to the dykes. The second wave of flooding since the start of the year was well contained by the dykes along the Rhine.” In Monheim, however, large areas of water had formed behind the dyke due to the rising groundwater.

During the floods, the fire brigade is on-call to reach remote properties – such as the historic Haus Bürgel estate. With their new extreme off-road Unimog U 5023, the crew can deploy to any location at any time, even in extreme weather conditions, in addition to carrying out their fire-fighting duties. In January, with the water level in Cologne at a peak of 8.70 metres, the Monheim fire service was deployed for the first time with its tough off-road fire engine.

Arriving safely, even through floods.

The Unimog U 5023 is basically designed as a water tender (TLF) for use in tackling forest and vegetation fires, but in addition to its role as a fire fighter, the off-road all-rounder can also be used in disaster relief situations and for flood protection. The off-road specialist has high ground clearance, massive torsional flexibility and high fording capability: all the qualities that make it so valuable for work on rough terrain.

The TLF 3000 fire service version of the Unimog can carry up to 3,000 litres of water. Waterways and flooded areas do not present a serious problem to Unimog U 4023/U 5023 models. The variable interior design allows for a flexible arrangement of pull-outs, stowage areas and mountings. Thanks to the vehicle’s higher intake pipe and water-protected assemblies the crew can confidently ford depths of up to 1.20 metres. Transmission and axles are protected against water ingress and fine sand.

On submerged roads to remote villages.

On the access road to Haus Bürgel, an estate containing riding stables, an equine breeding centre, a local history museum and a nature education centre, the water was waist-deep in places in early January. Fortunately it was not so bad to require the evacuation of the horses. The new Unimog U 5023 “sailed through” its first test in the flood waters of Monheim. The fire crew first had to assess the situation and find an access route which would enable them to reach the site quickly if called to attend a fire or other emergency.

Watch more videos on the Unimog in rescue operations:

The extreme off-road Unimog awaits its next deployment.

This time the residents of Monheim did not have to worry about their cellars being flooded as the groundwater did not rise that far. If it had, the fire service would have sent out all available vehicles to pump out the cellars and evacuate residents if necessary. The river water level eventually also dropped during the course of the month, but the next flood defence job for the new Unimog U 5023 is sure to come along at some point.

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